Category Archives: Nature
As a massage therapist, I’ve used a variety of essential oils over the years with my clients as well as for myself. Essential oils, also called “essences”, are botanical extracts of various plant materials, and do not only originate from flowers, but from herbs, trees and various other plant material. Essential oils are used in a variety of ways, including the more common aromatherapy method (where the oil is absorbed through the skin) or vaporization (where the essential oil molecules enter the bloodstream via the lungs). However, essential oils are also used medicinally by treating a problematic are (topically) or even taken internally. I use essential oils in all of my massage oil mixtures, formulating the perfect combination for each individual client.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has a fresh, sweet, floral, herbaceous aroma that is soothing and refreshing. It is by far my favorite essential oil to use. Because it is the most versatile of all essential oils, no home should be without it. Lavender is an adaptogen, and can help the body when adapting to stress or imbalances. It is a great aid for relaxing and winding down before bedtime, yet has balancing properties that can also boost stamina and energy. Therapeutic-grade lavender is highly regarded for skin and beauty. It may also be used to soothe and cleanse common cuts, bruises, and skin irritations. The French scientist René Gattefossé was among the first to discover these properties when he was severely burned in a laboratory explosion. Lavender may also be used to enhance the flavor of foods.
Here’s 15 ways to use lavender essential oil to make your life more calm, balanced, and healthy!
- Aching Muscles
If you’ve spent a back-breaking afternoon in the garden, jump into a lavender bath to soothe aches & pains away. Apply Epsom salts & a few drops of lavender oil to the bath and soak away the tension.
Lavender is one of the most valuable oils for the treatment of acne, according to aromatherapists. “It inhibits the bacteria that cause the skin infection, helps to rebalance the over-secretion of sebum, which the bacteria thrive on, and reduce scarring”. Add a few drops of lavender oil to a plain cream sold by chemists and use as a moisturizer or cleanser.
- Bugs & Bacteria
French laboratory studies in the early 20th century showed that lavender is a powerful antibacterial in dilutions of 5 per cent or less it is lethal to bacteria that cause typhoid, TB & diphtheria. Combined with Lemon Balm, for its clinically tested anti-viral properties.
- Burns (minor)
After you have cooled the area by immersing it in running cold water for 5 minutes, gently stroke on neat lavender oil. Pain relief is almost immediate, and burn usually heals without scarring.
- Cuts & Wounds
Apply lavender oil to sooth pain, prevent bacterial infection and aid scar-free healing. Apply neat.
Warm a bottle of lavender oil in hot water for a minute or two, then gently massage a few drops into the skin around the ears and throat. For babies & small children, add 2-3 drops of the warmed oil to a little olive oil and massage in the same way.
Stroke infused lavender oil (a few drops of lavender oil & carrier oil) into dry, itchy skin – small children will find this especially comforting or add a few drops of lavender oil to calamine lotion, just remember to shake before use.
Add 5 drops of lavender oil to a hot foot bath and relax while your feet soak in it. The soles of the feet are particularly porous, so lavender reaches your bloodstream very quickly, exerting its stimulating and soothing effects on various systems of your body.
For babies or small children, sponge them down very gently with tepid water to which you have added a drop of lavender oil. Take care not to let them get chilled. This works for adults too.
- Giddy Spells, Faintness or Palpitations
Make your own smelling salts – sea salt , lavender oil, peppermint oil & basil oil.
Spray lavender mist (lavender oil and distilled water) around your head. It is highly refreshing and soothing. Alternatively, make a compress of a piece of cause or muslin soaked in icy cold water then sprinkled with a few drops of lavender oil and apply to the forehead, or massage a few drops into the forehead, temples and nape of the neck.
In a number of small studies, elderly psychiatric patients have been shown to sleep better and be more alert during the day when their sleep medication is replaced with lavender oil either dropped on their pillows, or placed in a diffuser on the ward. To help to induce sleep, put 3 or 4 drops of lavender oil on your pillow. For babies, add 1 drop of lavender oil & geranium oil in carrier oil and massage into a babies back or a few drops in their bedtime bath.
- Long-Haul Travel
Combine lavender, rosemary, frankincense & sage oils and rub into into your hand luggage. Also, be sure to roll it over your pulse points to help you keep a clear head during those endless hours in the air.
- Menstrual & Tummy Cramps
Massage a few drops of lavender oil into your lower abdomen or apply a hot compress onto the area, which a little lavender oil has been sprinkled.
- Moths & Mosquitoes
These annoying little insects all hate the smell of lavender. To prevent bites, splash yourself with lavender mist (lavender oil and distilled water) before you go out at sunset or to bed, put 3-4 drops of oil on your pillow or soak cotton ball in the oil and leave it on a saucer in front of the window. Lavender oil is also a terrific remedy for insect bites, soothing itching & inflammation: dab it on to them neat as soon as possible. To keep moths off your clothes, hand lavender bags on you coat hangers or keep them among your sweaters and refresh them with a drop or two of lavender oil from time to time.
This infestation by a tiny mite burrowing into your skin causes intense itching. Rub the whole body with neat lavender oil, then following every day until better with a mixture of lavender oil and alcohol. Change and wash bedding and clothes and sprinkle lavender oil on the mattress.
Combine a mix of lavender oil with, analgesic, antiviral & scar preventing essential oils neat or on compresses on the agonizing lesions of shingles. It usually produces a cure within 5-8 days.
Lavender is one of several essential oils that aromatherapists recommend for inhalations to relieve sinusitis, add two drops of lavender & thyme oil to a bowl of near-steaming water and inhale slowly and deeply, with a towel over your head & bowl.
- Stress & Anxiety
Keep a small spray bottle of lavender mist (lavender oil and distilled water) – handy to spray on your face during the day, or apply lavender oil neat to your temples.
Spray lavender mist (lavender oil and distilled water) directly onto the skin or Add 8 drops of lavender oil and 4 drops of peppermint oil to a teaspoon of jojoba oil. Pour it into a cool-to-lukewarm bath and soak for 10 minutes.
A police officer sees a man driving around with a pickup truck full of sea otters. He turns on his lights and pulls the guy over saying, “you can’t drive around with sea otters in this town! Take them to the zoo immediately.” The guy says “OK”… and drives away. The next day, the officer sees the guy still driving around with the truck full of sea otters, and they’re all wearing sun glasses. He pulls the guy over and with anger asks, “I thought I told you to take these otters to the zoo yesterday?” The guy replies., “I did . . . today I’m taking them to the beach!”
*insert rimshot here*
Last night I came home from my book club and watched an amazingly interesting documentary with Paul, National Geographic: Big Sur – Wild California. For those of you who have been to Big Sur will know that this part of California’s Central Coast is home to one of the most incredibly diverse ecosystems on Earth. Here, nature and wildlife have evolved in drastic ways to survive. Big Sur is home to many unique species of wildlife including the highly endangered California Condors, San Joaquin Kit Fox, California Sea Lions, California Tiger Salamanders, and of course the California Sea Otters.
Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) are an aquatic member of the weasel family. They spend most of their time in the water, which is easy to do when you have webbed feet, nostrils and ears that close in the water, and water-repellent fur to keep them dry and warm. Sea Otters are meticulously clean! After eating, they wash themselves in the ocean, cleaning their coat with their teeth and paws. They have good reason to take care of their coats, as it helps them to stay waterproof and insulated against the cold. Unlike seals, sea otters don’t have insulating fat (blubber) to keep them warm in frigid 35 -60 degree ocean waters. They have air-bubble-trapping fur – the densest fur of any animal on Earth. Each square inch of their bodies are covered with 600,000 to 1,000,000 hairs. An entire human head has only about 100,000 hairs!
Sea otters often float at the water’s surface, lying on their backs in a posture of serene repose. They sleep this way, often gathered in groups. Otters sometimes float in forests of kelp, or giant seaweed, where they entangle themselves to provide anchorage in the swirling sea.
These aquatic otters do more than sleep while floating on their backs. They are often seen with a clam or mussel and a rock that has been deftly snared from the ocean floor. Otters will place the rock on their chests, and repeatedly smash the shellfish against it until it breaks open to reveal the tasty meal inside. They also dine on aquatic creatures, such as sea urchins, crabs, squid, octopuses, and fish.
Sea Otters are the only otters to give birth in the water. Mothers nurture their young while floating on their backs. They hold infants on their chests to nurse them, and quickly teach them to swim and hunt.
The California Sea Otter survived a close brush with extinction early in the 20th century, but today, under protection of the Endangered Species Act, they’re expanding their range and increasing their numbers. By the 1930’s, most people believed that this subspecies of sea otter had vanished, wiped out by fur traders who coveted its rich pelt. In 1938, however, a small group of otters were discovered living near the mouth of Bixby Creek along California’s Big Sur coast. From those few survivors, the otter has increased its numbers to more than 2,000 today. Growth has been particularly impressive during the past decade, when otter numbers increased by nearly 50%!
Conservation works! If we can see such a population increase with such an enchanting species, Sea Otters should inspire us to be advocates for other Ocean dwelling and dependent species which remain gravely endangered. Change begins with us!
Have an “otterly” wonderful Friday!
For most of us, a trip to the beach can best be described as relaxing and therapeutic. According to Trip Advisor’s 2013 Top 25 Destinations in the World, 14 locations are seaside and 20 locations are seaside or along a major waterway. There is no denying that we are balanced by water, whether that be an ocean, bay, river, or lake. But for many of us, when we think of the greatest relaxing vacation, we think of a tropical beach oasis. Destinations like Maui, Bora Bora, St. Lucia, Belize, and the Fiji Islands are just some of those popular names that come to mind when you think of aqua blue waters, reef life, warm sands, and tropical air.
Have you noticed an increase of saltwater marine aquariums in public locations? Perhaps you’ve seen them at a clinic, restaurant, hotel, spa, or maybe even a classroom? Aquarium Therapy is not new concept, but it is constantly studied and growing with high popularity!
Most people who watch a tank with fish will feel a calming effect, therefore reducing stress. At Purdue University, researchers discovered that displaying tanks with brightly colored fish helped to curtail disruptive behaviors and improve eating habits of people with Alzheimer’s Disease. It helps to boost physical and mental health. It was shown to help create bonding and a positive attitude. Studies have shown that seniors who were given the opportunity to view aquariums with fish had significant blood pressure reduction as well as cholesterol. Children, when visiting a doctor’s office, were found to be much calmer, especially children who suffered from hyperactivity disorders. Dental patients watching a fish tank required less pain medication. It also helps in reducing insomnia and persons coping with obesity. How awesome is this?
My fiancé and I have two saltwater marine aquariums filled with various fish, invertebrates, and corals. Contrary to popular belief, we find saltwater aquariums to be be more easy to maintain than freshwater…and not to mention more stunning, beautiful, and therapeutic. What I find so awesome about a saltwater marine aquarium (particularly a reef tank) is how organic the system is. When properly maintained; your aquarium becomes its own ecosystem. This is maintained through bacterias, diversity of species, live rock, live sand, etc. No unnatural chemicals are needed!
Another added benefit to aquariums are their incorporation into feng shui design. It is believed that moving water brings prosperity and good luck to a home or office. Aquariums are great feng shui enhancements because they are at the same time soothing and energizing. The sound and motion of gurgling water activates chi and adds humidity to a dry room, helping to balance chi. Moving water gets things going when the chi has been stagnant for a while (think of ice melting in the spring). Use moving water cures anywhere you want to enhance water or wood energy.
As amazing as this all is, any aquarium still requires learned knowledge, experience, time, money, and patience. After all, your marine life are all pets and should be treated with the proper respect and care that every pet has the right to. It is also very important to purchase and trade your marine life with reputable dealers and passionate and ethically driven marine enthusiasts. Marine life should never be harvested from the oceans!
There is no disputing the seriousness and severity of a heart attack. For most of us, we know and understand the risk factors, precursors, and warning signs. Scientists and physicians are constantly striving to educate people on this very serious issue, and how we can prevent it from happening to us. There is no denying that a lack of nutrition, an excess of sugars and fats, lack of physical exercise, smoking, etc. can place us in very dangerous odds with cardiovascular diseases, especially if we have a family genetic link to it.
So I wonder why the science of eco change and climate change is so easily debated and dismissed as “unproven, fraudulent, and a liberal scheme.” Yet for many of us: the risk factors, precursors, and warning signs are staring us in the face. What more needs to be done to convince others that our lack of accountability and denial of scientific facts are as serious as a heart attack? I pity the future generations of our great planet. I painfully pity the countless species of our ecosystem that will one day, quite literally be no more.
For those of you who are old enough to remember, Discovery Channel launched its first week-long series of Shark Week on July 17, 1987. I don’t remember when I actually started watching the series, but I estimate that it was somewhere around the summer of 1989. I’ve always loved sharks. I suppose I was one of the fortunate kids who never really believed that man-eating great white sharks patrolled the shores of seaside beaches, searching for their next bite of human flesh, as so ignorantly portrayed in the Jaws films.
I grew up in sunny Southern California. The beaches and the Pacific Ocean were all a normal part of life for my family. I actually remember my first real-life experience with a shark when I was around 4 or 5 years old. My dads had a pretty awesome little sailboat that we would launch in San Diego’s Mission Bay, and would always head out of the bay into the big, blue Pacific Ocean. We would always jump overboard and swim in the open water. One afternoon a larger mako or blue shark swam into our area and spent a few minutes swimming around us before losing interest and venturing on. Of course we made our way back on board the sailboat with our hearts pumping a little more stronger than usual, but surprisingly we were more honored and excited than scared. Over the years I’ve had many more fortunate encounters with these majestic creatures in various dives in California, Hawaii, and Mexico.
In the past several seasons of Shark Week I’ve noticed a decline in educating viewers and a rise in feeding the typical fearsome stereotypes of these misunderstood predators. The first sharks lived around 400 million years ago, with most sharks developing during the Cretaceous period – over 64 million years ago. Today there are over 400 species of sharks, and they are found in every ocean of the world, with some species also found in rivers. One third of oceanic shark species are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species which means they are seriously threatened by the possibility of extinction. Scientists even estimate that shark populations in the north-west Atlantic Ocean alone have declined by an average of 50% since the mid 1970s! Jaws was released as a film in 1975, and was based on a fictional New England seaside town named, Amity Island. You do the math…
There are many ongoing issues and circumstances which continue to threaten sharks such as overfishing, phobias, loss of habitat and food source(s), climate change, oceanic pollution, and the wealth sought in the shark fin industry. As STOP SHARK FINNING states, “Every year tens of millions of sharks die a slow death because of finning. Finning is the inhumane practice of hacking off the shark’s fins and throwing its still living body back into the sea. The sharks either starve to death, are eaten alive by other fish, or drown (if they are not in constant movement their gills cannot extract oxygen from the water). Shark fins are being “harvested” in ever greater numbers to feed the growing demand for shark fin soup, an Asian “delicacy”.
This is probably one of the most horrific and barbaric practices that is as equally criminal as the killing elephants simply to “harvest” their ivory tusks. Fortunately many animal rights and conservation groups have stepped up to the plate and have refused to let this issue go away.
And sadly there is a global pandemic of galeophobia, a fear of sharks. Are you afraid of sharks? Did you know:
- You have a 1 in 63 chance of dying from the flu and a 1 in 11 million chance of being killed by a shark during your lifetime.
- Over 17,000 people die from falls each year. That’s a 1 in 218 chance over your lifetime, compared to a 1 in 11 million chance of being killed by a shark.
- In 1996: toilets injured 43,000 Americans a year. 2,600 Americans were injured by room fresheners. Buckets and pails injured almost 11,000 Americans. However, sharks only injured 13.
- For every human killed by a shark, humans kill about two million sharks. (Read that one again!)
Even with these known facts, the ongoing research to study their behavior as well as their alarming population decreases, sharks are pretty much open game. If they’re not hunted, they die in fishing nets and even shark proof nets, which many Australian beach communities have gone so far to install. They do this in a desperate attempt to protect their revenue by providing tourists with a false sense of security instead of discussing the ongoing problems and issues which humans are to blame for. In the end, countless sharks wind up being the losers.
The last thing I want to do is put a damper on anyone’s Shark Week, especially for shark geeks such as myself, and so many of my fellow friends, but we need to speak out! Pay close attention to this series and see if you notice any fear-selling, misinformation, or downright absurdities! Don’t let Discovery Communications define Shark Week, we must be Shark Week! Let us put our passion into play and help educate our friends, family members, co-workers, etc. Let’s hit the “like” and “subscribe” buttons of the many great shark conservation groups and organizations. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have the means, lets go diving! For those who have never dived, look into it learning! Our oceans are an amazing ecosystem that we’re still learning about on a daily basis. Let’s be apart of that process!
Five years ago today I fell in love with my soulmate. I certainly wasn’t looking for love, but love found me. Starting a new relationship was actually neither of our intentions, and especially with a 3,000 mile distance between us. Yet as we look back on it, we know we were destined to find one another, and the distance was tool to prepare us for a long life together. If we could get through being separated by distance, we pretty much could get through everything else if he put our heart & soul into it…and we did!
Paul surprised me last night with matching glass evil eye bracelets which he made for us. I was overjoyed! We both love evil eyes not only for their ancient symbolism and our favorite cobalt blue color. They always remind us of our trip to Turkey with friends back in 2011, which besides a trip to The Bahamas, was our first trip abroad together.
We’re simple bears. We like a lot of the same things. I think that’s what’s so awesome about us. So instead of going out to buy a new suit to wear at an overpriced Washington, DC restaurant, we threw on our typical wardrobe, and hit the road for a fun-filled day trip.
Destination: Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Why Harpers Ferry, you might ask? We picked Harpers Ferry because we love history and nature, and it’s only an hour north-west of us! The history of Harpers Ferry is multi-layered – involving a diverse number of people and events that influenced the course of our nation’s history. Harpers Ferry saw the first successful application of interchangeable manufacture, the arrival of the first successful American railroad, John Brown’s attack on slavery, the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War, and the education of former slaves in one of the earliest integrated schools in the United States.
English colonist Robert Harper was given a 125-acre piece of property ca. 1750 and established a ferry across the Potomac River in 1761, thus making a new town in the Shenandoah Valley for settlers. Then comes industry, railroad, and the Civil War. The geography of Harpers Ferry is situated where Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia come together, as well as where the Potomac and Shenandoah River split. Walking through the “lower end” of town was absolutely fascinating, as we couldn’t help but to carry our imaginations into the past. What were the smells and sounds?
Like children running free in an amusement park, Paul and I took to the historic buildings, churches, cemeteries, trails, etc. We stumbled across a cute outdoor patio at the Cannonball Deli for a vegan lunch…a falafel wrap with curly fries. After gaining some more energy from eating, we hiked back up to the “upper town” and decided to simply drive where it looks even more awesome.
As we’re driving, we’re passing endless areas where we would love to pull over and take a photo of, but realize we would never get anywhere…so we keep driving. In attempt to find a higher vantage point overlooking Harpers Ferry, we get a little lost and accidentally stumble across another amazing town, Shepherdstown. This 18th century town is still a very active community offering an abundance of shops, eateries, and points of interest. We came across a historic building with a big wood sign which read, “O’Hurley’s General Store.” Curious, (and hoping they’d have a bathroom) we stopped into check it out. Little did we know this shop and the kindest shopkeeper would become one of the top three highlights of our trip!
After getting some more history lessons from the shopkeeper (who had no clue what falafel was), we headed out to explore more of the town. This meager little town was so full of life and filled with history, personality, and character at every angle. In 1787, James Rumsey was said to have engineered the first functioning steam engine propelled boat. So of course he has a quite fabulous monument built in his honor. Shepherdstown is also home to Shepherd University and it even an opera house which is still used to this day as a picture house.
After some more shop browsing, we headed down to the trails lining the Shenandoah River and simply enjoyed our special day – reminiscing, talking about the things we are passionate about, and enjoying the beauty which was surrounding us. Can it get any better than that?
So here we are at the five-year mark. Still in love. Very much in love. Engaged, but without a date set. Where will we be next year or in five years from now? Only, God knows that. However I believe in the depths of my heart that our love will still be burning strong. Perhaps we will think back this day in future anniversaries and reminisce on this newest memory to our adventure in life together.